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Ralph Nardone

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Posts posted by Ralph Nardone

  1. Answers: 

    Yes, alcohol will clean Future our of your airbrush--the higher the percentage, the better (I use at least 91%).  Make sure you flush thoroughly and field strip the gun to get it really clean. 

    Windex also works, but if you own certain brands of airbrushes that warn about using ammonia in their guns, you need to follow with a clean water rinse.  We all know that Windex is very, very dilute ammonia, but is says "ammonia" on the bottle, which is enough to throw the airbrush company that uses the bright green handles into a tizzy.  In all honesty, it probably is a good practice to flush with water anyway...

    If you don't have an airbrush, you can use a soft brush to apply Future.  You can even use Q-Tips.  Brush it on in a thin coat and let it flow out before deciding whether you need a second coat or not.  Remember, for decals all you need is a smooth surface, it doesn't have to have a mirror shine to it.

  2. If you apply multiple coats by airbrush, you can start the second coat almost as soon as the first is applied.  Just be careful not to apply it too heavily, since it will run.  You can airbrush it right from the bottle.  Clean the airbrush with Isopropyl Alcohol or Windex followed by a clean water rinse.   

    If you are brushing, follow the instructions on the bottle.  To be hones, when I apply by brush, I only ever apply a single coat.

    The important thing is to let the Future cure out at least overnight before trying to apply decals over it.  That will eliminate the potential for the Future to get "frosty" around the images from the decal solutions.  However, if this happens, another coat of Future will fix it.

  3. I've been using acrylics since the Dark Ages of the late 1970's.  Before I used Future as a gloss coat, I used Metalizer Sealer.  I found that if I left Future to cure for 48 hours, I could do oil washes over them, the same as I could over Sealer, without stinking the house up with lacquer fumes.

    As I said, if you are unsure of a technique, find an old model that is nearing retirement and use it as a Test Mule.  Try to technique, and if it works, do it on the new model.  If it doesn't work, keep tweaking it until it either works or becomes obvious that you need to try something else.


  4. Stuart, there are no secrets--well, not with me when it concerns model building.

    The key to getting better is to just keep building.  As you move from one project to the next, strive to make it better.  Try new things.  As you do so you add skills and techniques to your tool box, and as you repeat techniques you refine those skills.

    I've created and hosted a "Model Building 101" seminar over the years, and if I emphasize one thing more than others, it is this:  There is very little that you can mess up on a plastic model that cannot be fixed.

    You've already discovered that the forums are great resources.  Keep asking questions--as I said, there are no stupid questions.

    My favorite washes are done with artists oils.  Why?  Because I can control the thinning ratio.  I can apply them straight from the tube for one effect, or thin it heavily for another.  You can't do that with the pre-bottled products available.  And lest I step on some toes, you'll find that a cheap starter set of oils from Michael's or Hobby Lobby will do the same thing as the products offered by MiG, AK, Tamiya, Abteilung 502, etc.  If you want to only get a few colors, start with Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Ivory Black, Paynes Grey, and Titanium White--from these, you can mix most "grimy" colors. 

    Of course, having a red (Cadmium Red Hue), yellow (Cadmium Yellow Hue), and blue (Ultramarine Blue) also allows you to mix any color in the rainbow.

    Use odorless thinners--Turpenoid--to thin them.

    As for application, there are tons of videos on YouTube covering weathering.  Night Shift, PLASMO, MMScale Models, Andy's Hobby Headquarters, Flory, the list goes on and on.

    I love to watch PLASMO--the modeler, David Damek, is not afraid to try new things.  He's been at it for a few years, and he's gone from respectably assembling kits out of the box to producing 3D printed parts and resin casting.  He also uses whatever is available to him--he doesn't limit his supply locker only to "hobby" products.  The best part of his videos is that he makes it look easy for anybody to do. 

    I also use oils when I drybrush.  They stay workable for a while, and if I don't like the effect I can either blend it out to nothing with a soft brush or (in extreme cases) remove it with a Q-Tip moistened with Turpenoid.

    When you're ready to try washes and weathering, use an old model as a mule.  Try washes over matte, semi-gloss, and full gloss to see how they lay down over these finishes.  I like a gloss surface, some of the top modelers prefer semi-gloss.  Washes over a matte surface are interesting, as they create a stain "in the paint" that mimics old, worn-in grime and dirt.


  5. No question is stupid.

    Here's how I paint and decal my models. 

    1. Paint the model.
    2. Apply a few coats of Future (I think it is called Pledge Revive-It these days) and allow to dry for at least 24 hours.
    3. Apply the decals. 
                 a. Soak the item in warm water* for about 30 seconds and remove it to a paper towel to soak. 
                 b. Test it with a clean paintbrush, wet with water, and when the decal starts to move, it is time to place on the model.
                 c. Wet the area of the model where the decal goes.  If you use the Microscale products, the Micro Set (blue label) is used here.  If not, water is fine.
    4. Position the decal.  Use the brush and slide the decal into place.
    5. If you see any air trapped under the decal, use the brush to work it out.
    6. Now, let the decal sit, face-up, for about 10 minutes.
    7. Inspect the decal--it should be starting to settle into and around the details (most aftermarket decals will do this quite well--kit decals, not so much).
    8. Carefully apply decal solvent (Micro Set, Solvaset**, Mr. Mark Setter, etc.) on top of the decal.  I use a brush to "float" a "bubble" over the image.
    9.  DON"T TOUCH THE DECAL!  It will begin to soften, sometimes wrinkling so badly that you'll question what you just did to ruin the model.  Be patient.
    10. After about 30 minutes, examine the decal again. It should be pulling tight to the surface of the model.  
    11. If you see any air bubbles, poke the decal with a sharp needle or the tip of a new #11 blade, dab some solvent on it, and let it work.
    12.  Allow the decals to dry overnight.***
    13. Once the decals have dried overnight, wash off any residual decal adhesive.  I use distilled water and a microfiber cloth to do this.
                 a.  If there are any "frosty" areas around the decal where the solvent was, don't worry--another coat of Future will rectify this.
    14.  Apply a clear overcoat.  If you're going to weather with artists oils or enamel products ("panel liners", etc.), or of you got frosty patches, use Future.
                  a.  If you weather, do your thing and let the products dry before applying your final overcoat.

    Now, some tips (the asterisks):

    * I always use distilled water when I apply decals.  Tap water contains chemicals, and well water contains minerals that can cause issues.
    **I dilute Solvaset with distilled water--I place a few drops into a small container, and dip the brush in water before going into the solvent.
    ***I divide the decals in four groups--one for the top, one for the bottom, and one for each side.  I tackle one side a night--all the decals that go on the top surfaces one night, etc.  That way, I can leave the model with that side facing up overnight to let gravity assist in getting the decals drawn down tight to the surface.  If you build airplanes, you may need to whip up some sort of prop to keep the sides facing up, but a few rolls of tape or a stack of boxes work--I used to prop them up in one of the kitchen drawers!

    There are other methods out there.  One faction of modelers states that clear gloss overcoats are not necessary--and they're correct, to a point.  All a decal needs is a *smooth* surface, but the easiest way to get there is through a clear gloss overcoat.

    Some of these same modelers claim that Future is "garbage" (its not), "floor wax" (its not), and all sorts of other things.  What I've found over 20+ years using it as a clear gloss is this--although the bottle says it is safe to walk on in 30 minutes, it has not cured completely in that 30 minutes.  Let is dry for at least 24 hours (more is better).  I've found that the longer it cures, the less it wants to frost under the decal solvent, and the better it stands up to odorless thinners used to weather with oils or "panel liners", etc.

    If you don't want to use Future, there are a myriad of clear gloss finishes out there--do a Google search, or ask here, to find out what some folks are using.

    FWIW, this is another one of those "ask 10 modelers the same question, and you'll get 15 different answers--all of them valid" deals...


  6. Nice work. 

    Question--are you going to correct the main landing gear (the kits have the struts centered in the trunnion, while on the actual aircraft the strut was offset) and the "sit" of the nose gear?  Those are the two big issues with the Hasegawa Neptune, and since they're the only game in town...



  7. IPMS/Mid-Carolina and AMPS Central South Carolina will be hosting the SC Scale Model Mega Show and IPMS/Region 12 Regional Show at the South Carolina National Guard Armory, 1225 Bluff Road, Columbia, SC 29201.  We're currently scheduled for 18 and 19 June 2021.  The show itself begins at 9AM on Saturday.  We will have food trucks on premises as in the past.  As of now, we believe the Military Museum will also be open, and we will provide driving direction for those who wish to visit the South Carolina State Museum/South Carolina Confederate Relic Room to view the 1/72nd scale diorama of Fire Support Base RIPCORD, built by members of AMPS Central South Carolina and IPMS/Mid-Carolina.

    This year, we've decided to focus on the models, not the medals.  Also, we thought it would be nice to have a more relaxed atmosphere, where people can show off all those Pandemic models and spend some time talking with other modelers--in other words, we wanted to make it more of an exhibition with awards available than a head-to-head contest.  We believe that once you experience it, you will find you actually like the idea... 

    This show will be unlike anything most IPMS and AMPS members have ever seen.  We're using the best parts of IPMS and AMPS judging and a modified Military Miniatures Society if Illinois (MMSI) exhibition format.  Entrants will be paying for an approximate 30 inch square display space, and can display as many models as will fit in that space.  When they meet the Registrar, they will choose one of their models to be evaluated, and they will also choose a skill level.   The models that have been entered for judging will be evaluated using the AMPS method (employing a 10-point scoring scale) by two teams of two judges each.  The scores will be tabulated (the low score is discarded), and the resulting aggregate score determines whether the model earns an award, and what award it will be (Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal). 

    The medal-winning models will then be evaluated using IPMS-style judging to determine the Best in Class and Best in Show winners.  Theme and Special Awards will place preference on medal-winning models; however, in the event no medal-winning models fall within the eligibility rules, these awards will be opened up to all models present that do meet the criteria.   

    At the end of the show, each entrant will receive their score sheets with judge's comments.  We have a complete rules package posted to the website (link below), feel free to download them and give them some study.  Anyone who is interested in receiving judges training should contact us at the e-mail address below; we will host a Zoom meeting to train potential judges approximately two weeks prior to show time.

    Behind each display table, we will have chairs for the entrants to sit so they can chat with the other patrons who view their work.  We will also have a vendor area--this year, we've again expanded the number of vendor tables, since they sell out quickly.  Grab a chair, sit back, relax, and talk plastic with your friends.  Make new friends, learn new stuff, and basically enjoy a day filled with plastic modeling.  Clubs or groups wishing to have their individual displays together should contact us prior to the show so that we can make arrangements.  Clubs or groups will be allowed to have a club banner and recruiting materials at the display. 

    In addition to the "20/20 Vision: Reconnaissance through Time" theme, we've added "When Bad Things Happen: First Responders and Disaster Relief" as a second theme. That's right, we will have TWO theme awards, one for our cancelled show in 2020 (after all, some of you built models to fit that theme--we wouldn't want them to go unheralded!), and another theme for this year.

    The Special Awards are:
    "Desert Storm"
    "Sink the Bismarck!"
    "Racing Around the Clock"
    "The Wings of Man"

    The eligibility criteria and awards list with sponsors (as of 1 March) is under the "Our Contest" tab on the show website:

    In light of the current pandemic situation, please be aware that neither IPMS/USA nor its Chapters are liable for any potential transmission of illnesses.  Those planning to attend this event should follow existing safe social distancing recommendations and abide by any local or state regulations regarding gatherings. 

    At this time, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has rescinded the "large indoor gathering" restrictions enacted last April, so we believe the way is clear for the show to go on as planned.  Even though the vaccination effort is gaining more and more momentum in South Carolina, and we believe a good many people should be vaccinated by show time, we will still ask all patrons to wear a face covering and be mindful of social distancing and proper hygiene.  We will provide hand sanitizer throughout the building.

    Any parties wishing to sponsor an award (Class or Special), please get in touch.  Each award plaque is $30. We also accept general sponsorship donations and raffle donations. Send us an e-mail at scmegashowinfo@gmail.com.

    We have sold 37 of the 71 planned vendor tables to date. They sell fast from this point, so if you want one (or know somebody who might want one), contact Tim Darrah at scmegashowvendors@gmail.com for info.

    We hope to see you there!

    Ralph Nardone, IPMS 33984
    President, IPMS/Mid-Carolina Swamp Fox Modelers
    Co-Chair, South Carolina Scale Model Mega Show
  8. And, if all else fails and you either don't have a local shop or the local shop doesn't carry an alternative, True North Precision Paints are, I'm told, nearly identical to Model Master.  You just have to order them online...

    As I said when the initial "Woe is me, Testors is going away" posts started popping up on the various forii, Testors didn't have anything in their line that doesn't have an available alternative or alternatives that in some cases are better and/or more economical, it just means that you'll probably have to buy it online.  Seeing as "the local hobby shop" might not exist for many people, it is the way many of us get our hobby stuff.

    Not affiliated with True North, just passing on what I've heard.  I'm an acrylic user myself, and have had to become familiar with alternatives to the Acryl line...


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  9. Seeing as how the Hasegawa AD-5/A-1E was a re-boxed Monogram kit, try looking under the Monogram or Revell labels.

    Here's the Scalemates entry:  https://www.scalemates.com/kits/monogram-pa146-douglas-a-1e-skyraider--147629

    A company called Skale Wings produced a 1/72 Fat Face SPAD a few years ago, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to find.  There were also a few RVHP Resin conversions for the Hasegawa AD-6 kits, too, but again, they are difficult to find.

    Which Hasegawa F-4E?  They made two kits--one in 1973 and another in the 1990's.  By "detailed", what exactly are you looking for?  In either kit, they're plain moldings of the canopies--no hinges, seals, inner frames, etc., etc.  There are several etched brass sets that you can use to add all those details.


  10. Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people. -- David Sarnoff, President of the Radio Corporation of America and the father of modern color television.

    The siren's song of competition in what should be a hobby has clouded a lot of folks' idea of what the hobby itself is all about.  (Hint--it ain't about the awards.)

    We need to stop the illusion that the current IPMS/USA contest format is good for modeling.  It may have been at one time, but I've seen too many cases of how it has turned into a ruthless and cutthroat blood-sport, where the guys who have cracked the code continue to win more and more while less experienced modelers wonder why they cannot "win", too.

    We need to remind ourselves that this is a hobby, and that our shows should be about the models, not the medals (or trophies, or plaques, etc.).  Awards, of course, are nice, but they shouldn't be the raison d’être for building models.

    I'll forgo my usual stump speech for scored contests with skill levels and written feedback, since that would start another thread beating that dead horse some more.



  11. To add to what has been said, don't use a lot of water--it should be more like a stiff dough than anything else.  Add a generous blob of white glue to the mix, and apply it in thin layers.  Depending on the substrate, it may take a few days to dry completely.

    If you want to try something else, try Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty, available from Lowe's and The Home Depot.  It is a dry powder that can be mixed with water to different consistencies.  For general coverage, mix it to the consistency of cookie batter and spread it with a putty knife.  To fill gaps between items that have been cut into a base, mix it to pancake batter consistency and pour it.  Thin mixes tend to take longer to set and tend to shrink, so plan ahead for that.  While it is still wet, sift a bit of the dry powder over it--the dry powder wicks off some of the moisture and also textures the layer.  The texture can be fragile, so another trick is to use pre-mixed grout after the Durham's is dry to add texture--stipple it on with a disposable chip brush.  Once dry, paint... 

    I pimp this often--check out the Fire Support Base RIPCORD diorama at the FSB RIPCORD Association's website.


  12. 8 hours ago, JClark said:

    As for Decals. Some have mentioned that for OOB to be true you have to use the kit decals. Well yes but the reason aftermarket decals are allowed is due to the fact that decals can degrade over time making them unusable. So why penalize the entrant over something beyond their control? The new Quinta studios offering will be addressed and not allowed in OOB. 



    It could be as easy as altering the language from "Decals other than those included with the kit may be used" to "Alternate paint and markings schemes are permitted."

    As for items like the Quinta cockpit details, they may be printed on decal paper, but I see them as the plastic evolution of photoetched parts.  That's just me...



  13. Kapton is used as an electrical insulator.  At one time, it was used for the insulation on aircraft-grade wiring.  It is light, but is not able to withstand abrasions, and once scored it tended to split.  One airplane I re-wired had wiring that looked like beads on a string...


    The tape is available through Amazon and several other sources:


    • Like 1
  14. Durham's is a DIY filler.  The beauty of it is that you can control the consistency of it by mixing in more or less water.  Less water, you get a thick putty; more water, you get a pourable, pancake-batter consistency.  Each has their uses. 

    Back in the day, FineScale Modeler ran a series of articles by Ray Anderson called "The Art of the Diorama" (and later compiled them into a book).  He would use Durham's for his groundwork.  We followed suit on our 1/72 scale Fire Support Base now located at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.  Read about it here (click through the pages for the full story):


  15. I first became aware of Squadron through their ads in the late 1970's in the old Challenge Publications rag "Scale Modeler", and I first ordered from them in 1983.  From 1983 through the mid-1990's, they were my go-to.  Then I started working in a hobby shop (Warrick Custom Hobbies in Plantation, FL) where I could get whatever I wanted by tacking it on to a stock order, and had no use for mail order (or, as became more frequent, online purchasing).  I moved in 2001, and the next time I used Squadron was in 2005--what a marked difference.  Shipping prices were through the roof (not 100% Squadron's fault, to be sure, but...), and their "Specials" were less frequent and could be hit or miss.  After Jerry sold the business, I noted a lot less models on special and a lot more tchotchkes in stock and at a deep discount. 

    To be honest, I believe the decline started with the rise of the internet.  Groups like Stevens International (through their MegaHobby arm) and what we now know as Sprue Brothers embraced the technology, while Squadron resisted.  When they did finally acknowledge that that was the future, their first attempt at a website was dismal, at best.  Then Jerry sold the business, and that guy got in over his head.  Then came Gwinne Gorr from Franklin Mint, but by that time the writing was on the wall. 

    I recall reading somewhere a few months ago (about the same time Jef V. left and started his venture) that Gwynne, too, was out.  I guess that coincides with a change in ownership...

    The funny thing is that MMD never missed a beat--probably because many shops were, up until recently, ordering via phone and fax.  The HobbyTown I worked for only started using electronic ordering after MMD synchronized their system to the HobbyTown SMART software.  Before late 2015 all our orders to MMD were done via phone, simply because it was easier than using their online ordering system.  An added bonus was that you received confirmation of stock as you placed the order...

    If they're simply reorganizing, I will be eager to see what changes they've made.  If they're down for the count, it was a long, fun ride...


    • Like 1
  16. As folks have stated already, cost is a matter of personal perception.  We had a member of IPMS/Flight 19 many years ago who would not, under any circumstances, purchase a kit if it retailed for over $20.  It didn't matter if it was a kit of his favorite subject, $20 was his line in the sand, and that would usually include the paint he needed for the project, too.  Meanwhile, another member would routinely spend at least $100 on any model he built--by the time you totaled up the cost of the kit (and the kits be built were usually at that same $20 point), the aftermarket (and remember, this was the late 1980's--aftermarket was a small sliver of what it is today), the books, the paint, etc., etc., it was close to a C-Note.  

    And the truth was that both modelers would routinely turn out gorgeous models.  The guy who limited himself to $20 would cobble up all sorts of detail from scrap he had lying around the house--and not necessarily plastic scrap.  Paper, wood, wire, thread, you name it, he used it--it was all fair game.  And the guy who pulled out all the stops was as adept at incorporating all the  disparate parts into one gorgeous model.  And they both enjoyed themselves while doing it. 

    To each their own.  As I'm fond of saying during my Model Building 101 seminars, the joy of this hobby is that there is no one "right" way to pursue it.

    • Like 1
  17. On 12/23/2020 at 3:20 AM, noelsmith said:

    OOB is NOT ABOUT ACCURACY!    Many kits are inaccurate, particularly older ones. The whole idea of OOB that seems to be missed by some is that it is purely a test in basic skills in model building a kit as it was intended to be built by the manufacturer. Judges will not be looking at all about how accurate the kit is, just how well.made and painted.

    I never said it was--I merely mentioned that modelers who want to game the OOB rules make that claim--they feel they "need" to include ignition harnesses or deck railings to make their model "accurate".  And I also said that OOB, for an experienced modeler, is automatically a compromise, since the OOB rules box you in on what you can or cannot do to the model, where as the Open categories allow you freedom to do whatever you wish. 

    Honestly, I can think on no plastic modeling organization that (officially) uses accuracy as a yard stick.  Every now and then, I see a claim from IPMS folks along the lines of "well, we use it as a tie-breaker", which I find ludicrous at face value.

    As far as using aftermarket decals goes, it is nothing more than a finishing step--decals are decals, they apply (mostly) the same way.  From what I recall during a long discussion years ago on this very subject, the consensus was that a decal was a decal was a decal.  It doesn't change the manufacturer's configuration of the plastic.

    • Like 1
  18. 2 hours ago, Rusty White said:

    I agree, and to give credit where credit is due, that is as good as the NCC can come up with considering so many variations and new kits coming to market.  I would suggest emailing the appropriate head judge or the Chief Judge (nationals or regional contest) for a more definitive answer.

    The other alternative--one I favor, and one I've discussed on this forum before--is to limit out of box models to being just that--out of the box.  Period.  No added seat belts, rigging, spark plug wires, etc., unless it comes in the kit and is shown on the instruction sheet.  Aftermarket decals should be allowed, but that's as far as it really should go.  

    People then argue along the lines of "well, the model will seem to be lacking if I don't add seat belts" or "it won't be accurate if there are no railings" (that one still confuses me, since, last time I checked, accuracy was not a judging criteria).  My answer?  Entering out of box is a decision the modeler makes.  You have consciously decided to limit what you can and cannot do if you decide to enter OOB.  Don't like the limitations?  Then simply don't restrict yourself by entering OOB--enter the "Open" categories and let the chips fall where they may.  To be sure, I have seen OOB models win categories over a dozen fully detailed models because, as Chris points out, the more stuff you add, the more opportunity there is for mistakes. 

    As far as multi-media "high tech" (aka ProfiPack, etc.) go, the work around is as Ed pointed out--split them into traditional (all plastic) and mixed media.


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